Jewel of Ontario
The Petawawa River
A film by George Drought, 2003
Wilderness Bound Productions
To order VHS:
Drought’s development as a filmmaker has continued and
he has produced a charming look at the lovely Petawawa
River in Ontario’s Algonquin Park.
was expecting something more straightforward,
Drought has reached into the cinematic bag of tricks
and rewarded us with an interesting film about
paddling the river and those who have paddled it
There are some lovely
nature and rapids shot and while the quality still
varies widely, it is pleasing. The only time it
looks poor are in some of
the interviews where the
light is bad. The investment in wireless microphones
paid off, as people can talk a distance from the camera
while paddling the rapids or trudging the portages.
This film starts off with a
bang, especially for those of us who have done the river
and always wondered what lay beyond the Do Not Enter
signs at the takeout. That’s where the Army base begins,
or more importantly, the firing range where they test
shells and ammo! George and friends were allowed into
the base to run some of the rapids.
Then the story moves back
into the river’s headwaters. Petawawa means, ‘the noise
from far away” and it rises in the eastern half of
Algonquin. There are stories of the early
logging and a great section
on the Stacks Rapids which empty into Cedar Lake where
most people think of the river as starting. The classic
ancient store in Brent offers a good interview with a
man who has lived in the Park all his life, as have many
of his forebears.
This theme continues down
the river with interviews and rapids and good fun.
Drought won a Waterwalker Film Award for this piece and
perhaps we’ll see it on a specialty TV channel before
One minor gripe. The cover
of the video box is a very poor quality photo and it’s
hard to figure why they would slip up there with a
wealth of good photos surely available. But it’s what’s
inside that really counts – though you have to make the
people want to buy.
The province of Saskatchewan
has, in the past year, become one of the best covered
areas for wilderness paddling. Last year’s great
Canoeing the Churchill filled a big void on the great
river and now some Laurel Archer’s Northern Saskatchewan
Canoe Trips to add a bunch more.
— Michael Peake
A film by Les Stroud
Wilderness Spirit Productions
VHS 39 minutes $29.95 - 2003
or call 705.387.4717
TV being all the rage, it is nice to see the formula
done in a very northern Canadian sort of way. No
melodrama, no tribes.
Les Stroud, who helped
George Drought with his Petawawa film including the
lovely music, is the man behind this production and it
looks first class all the way. Out of the
film centre of Burk’s Falls, Ontario, Les is producing a
steady stream (sic) of enjoyable outdoor videos.
Les has a very compelling TV
appearance – telegenic is the phrase they use. In this
40-minute TV show made in conjunction with the Discovery
Channel in Canada, Les is dropped into the northern bush
with nothing but what he is wearing and carrying. Oh,
yes, that plus 90 lbs. of television cameras.
It’s important to note that
there was no TV camera operator with him — he did it
all. This is the real survivor and in this case Les is
more. Oh, yes, and the moral of the story is ALWAYS
carry a Swiss Army Knife!
For eight days we watch him
sweat, shiver, itch and work his butt off filming this
adventure in Wabikimi Provincial Park northwest of
Thunder Bay. Les’ winning personality shows though as he
battled the bugs and heat and harsh realities of making
a fire without a match (it took nine hours-plus!).
There’s a cooking section
too. Toasted leeches sure made my wife go Yum . . . or
was it Yeccchh.
It’s great fun and very
instructive — for Les too as it turns out. He’s been
teaching this for 18 years and there’s still something
for the ol’ professor to learn.
— Michael Peake